A radial calibration window for analytical ultracentrifugation
Thomas W. LeBrun, Peter Schuck, Wei Ren, Justine Yoon, Xianghui Dong, Nicole Y. Morgan, Jeffrey A. Fagan, Huaying Zhao
Analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) is a first-principles based method for studying particles in solution by monitoring the evolution of their radial concentration distribution as a function of time in the presence of a high centrifugal field. In sedimentation velocity experiments, hydrodynamic properties relating to size, shape, density, and solvation of particles can be measured, at a high hydrodynamic resolution, on polydisperse samples. In a recent multilaboratory benchmark study including data from commercial analytical ultracentrifuges in 67 laboratories, the calibration accuracy of the radial dimension was found to be one of the dominant factors limiting the accuracy of AUC. In the present work, we develop an artifact consisting of an accurately calibrated reflective pattern lithographically deposited onto an AUC window. It serves as a reticle when scanned in AUC control experiments for absolute calibration of radial magnification. After analysis of the pitch between landmarks in scans using different optical systems, we estimate that the residual uncertainty in radial magnification after external calibration with the radial scale artifact is ≈ 0.2 %, of similar magnitude to other important contributions after external calibration such as the uncertainty in temperature and time. The previous multilaboratory study had found many instruments with errors in radial measurements of 1 2 %, and a few instruments with errors in excess of 15 %, meaning that the use of the artifact developed here could reduce errors by 5-to 10-fold or more. Adoption of external radial calibration is thus an important factor for assuring accuracy in studies related to molecular hydrodynamics and particle size measurements by AUC.